Bunker boss gets courtyard curfew lifted

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The owner of a premium Queenstown bar can now keep his deck open after 10pm – but it’s cost him $30,000. 

Queenstown Lakes Dis­­­trict Council has given Bunker owner Cameron Mitchell the green light to breach downtown noise limits after 10pm by using his outdoor area for dining, drinking and smoking. 

Mitchell’s been battling for the approval since September when council regulator Lakes Environ­mental sent an abatement notice requiring him to shut the courtyard after 10pm. 

The abatement notice followed a noise complaint in April about the Cow Lane bar and restaurant’s upstairs area which is enclosed by three walls and a parapet roof. 

Mitchell won an exemption for smokers in October after appealing to the Environment Court. 

However, that wasn’t enough for a persistent Mitchell, the Queenstown branch president of the Restaurant Association. 

He wanted to continue operating the courtyard for diners and drinkers too – as he had done for the past six years. 

Mitchell hired a lawyer, noise specialist and resource consent consultant to help apply for a new consent, estimating it cost him about $30,000. 

The approval was granted two weeks ago. 

“It’s what we’ve been doing for six years – it’s just cost me 30,000 bucks to let them issue me a form that says I can keep doing it,” Mitchell says. 

“[But] it’s a good result to get this. Common sense has prevailed.” 

Mitchell says he hopes his win may prompt fellow operators who he knows have “quite restrictive terms” on their outside areas to appeal them. 

“This might give them the motivation to apply themselves – because it’s a fair outlay of cash and you might not get it. 

“I’m happy we got it eventually but the amount of money and process just seemed unnecessary. We thought we had the correct resource consent originally – it’s yet to be determined whether we did.” 

Bunker’s new consent allows it to breach noise limits in its immediate vicinity after Mitchell got approval from neighbours. 

The outdoor yard will even be allowed speakers playing music as long as it doesn’t result in detectable music down Cow Lane. 

After 10pm, no more than 15 people are allowed on the deck.